North Deer Island has 1.7 miles of protected shoreline which supports nesting habitat for the threatened Reddish Egret and 16 other bird species. This rookery is located in Galveston Bay between Tiki Island and West Galveston.
There are over 12,000 nesting pairs of birds on North Deer Island and the small surrounding islands. Of that total, approximately 40% of all the Brown Pelicans on the Texas coast nest there.
The second part of this trip is into Offatts Bayou which lies at a roughly 90 degree angle to North Deer Island and runs all the way under 61st street. On this part of the trip, you should get closer looks at American Oystercatchers, terns, gulls and other wading birds. There could also be some late Common Loons.
A bus will shuttle you from FF headquarters to the Galveston Harbor to board the SS Seagull II. During this fabulous boat ride to the rookery, which takes about an hour, you will hone your skills for identifying bay birds in flight: American White and Brown Pelicans, American Avocets, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, Gull-billed, and Caspian Terns, cormorants, gulls, Reddish Egrets, Tricolor Herons, plus pods of dolphins and a possible early Magnificient Frigatebird.
The SS Seagull II will drift around this protected, no-trespassing rookery, observing nesting herons, Brown Pelicans, Reddish Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills and other wading birds in their full breeding plumage. The viewing distance will be determined by the tides and prevailing winds.
The boat is a 45-passenger open air catamaran. Please use the restroom facilities in the museum prior to boarding. The approximate travel time to the Island is an hour each way, but you’ll enjoy looking for birds and dolphins throughout your trip. Don’t forget your jacket, as it is usually windy & very cool on the boat. Although many photo ops will be available, this is not a photography trip and large cameras with tripods are not recommended.
Saving North Deer Island Bird Rookery: Texas Parks and Wildlife video
North Deer Island: Houston Audubon webpage about North Deer Island and the shoreline restoration project